Donald MacLeod Invitational Contest Postponed

The P/M Donald Macleod MBE Memorial Piping Competition has been postponed until later in the year due to the coronavirus outbreak. The prestigious competition was due to be held in Stornoway on Friday, April 3 but has been postponed until the autumn, with the exact date to be confirmed later.

Organisers The Lewis and Harris Piping Society announced the postponement today (March 17) after discussion with NHS Western Isles. 

A junior Donald Macleod competition, due to have been held for the first time this year, has also been postponed until further notice. It was to have taken place on the Thursday, April 2, the day before the main event.

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust sponsors the competition to the tune of £5,000 and will also be sponsoring the inaugural junior competition, by donating commemorative quaichs to all participants, when the time comes.

Dr John Smith, chairman of the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “The Lewis and Harris Piping Society have decided to postpone the Donald Macleod competition which was due to be held on the 3rd of April.

“We had become increasingly concerned over the national situation over the past weekend and yesterday sought the advice of the Western Isles Health Board’s public health department and their advice was that the competition should be postponed if at all possible. The advice was further reinforced by the advice by government later yesterday afternoon that unnecessary social contact should be avoided.

“We are naturally very disappointed as all the arrangements had been in place and the pipers had been given their tunes and were all set to come to Stornoway for the 3rd of April. We are also disappointed for the youngsters who had been selected to take part in the inaugural Pipe Major Donald Macleod junior competition on the Thursday evening.

“Our provisional plan is to look at a suitable date in the autumn – possibly late September, perhaps even late November.”

The P/M Donald Macleod MBE Memorial Piping Competition commemorates the musical legacy of Pipe Major Donald Macleod, one of Stornoway’s most famous sons. He was an outstanding piper and won all the major competitions but it was for his prolific compositions that he is best remembered, including his piobaireachds. The tune Lament for the Iolaire is one of his best loved. 

The competition, in its 27th year this year, was created to celebrate his music and is split into two sections – piobaireachd and march, strathspey and reel – and it is compulsory for competitors to play mostly Donald Macleod tunes. It is an invitation-only competition and highly prestigious as it always features eight of the current best pipers in the world, who are invited based on their success elsewhere on the piping circuit during the year.

Winner Finlay Johnston is congratulated at last year’s Donald MacLeod

Point and Sandwick Trust has committed £25,000 to the competition over five years to ensure it can continue to be held in its home town. Before this sponsorship was secured there were fears the piping society would have to move the competition to the mainland in order to cut costs.

Norman Mackenzie, chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “It is disappointing news that this excellent piping competition has had to be postponed but the health of competitors, judges, the audience and the wider community comes first. It is particularly disappointing because of the junior section having to be cancelled but that cannot be helped. These are very challenging times.

“Point and Sandwick Trust has made a commitment to support this competition in Stornoway and we will be pleased to deepen that involvement by supporting the introduction of the junior element, when the time comes. We look forward to enjoying this event later in the year.”

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